Marketing is the Devil’s work. I can’t add anything to it Bill Hicks hasn’t already said. However, I think it’s time for a rant about marketing books.

 

First up is how books are described. That back blurb that you read to see if you’re interested? 99% of the time the author had nothing to do with it. Not. A. Single. Damn. Word. Self-published authors do, and some boutique publishers work with the author. However many writers, like me, can look at the blurb for their book and see what others have put in. Often it’s puzzling. So please know that the persons to roll our eyes at is not the author.

 

Take for example Sherrilyn Kenyon. Her forthcoming book at this time is Son of No One. It’s described as “male protagonist meets female protagonist, must protect her from Big Bad, but last time he loved a woman like this he lost his soul, so can he trust her and will love win the day?”

 

YES! DUHHHHHHHH!

 

This is book 20-something in the Dark Hunter series, and with maybe 1 or 2 exceptions THAT’S THE ROMANTIC PLOT OF EVERY GODDAMN BOOK IN THE SERIES and they all end the same way: she overcomes his fear, proves her love by risking either his or her life, they live happily ever after.

 

The problem here is we know that, and if you’re reading the series solely for the love stories you’re a bit brain damaged. You read it because it’s one of the few good romance novel series of urban fantasy. The arcs in the background are what drive you. In the beginning it was how can the daimons be destroyed? Then how do the good daimons overcome the bad, and can their curse ever be lifted? Then why do old gods keep trying to end the world, will our fearless dark-hunters, dream-hunters, and were-hunters defeat them? Then came demon-o-rama when everyone began hunting demons, mostly Sumerian. Then came the Native-American apocalypse you can’t understand, but ride along to see if the dark-hunters can stop it. Now we’re going into a new one and all we really know if the main character of this book is the son of Satan, Lucifer, the Christian Devil, and oh, yeah, DRAGONS! Fuck romance, I want to read about a ret-conned Damien and see some damn dragons flying around breathing fire.

 

So why isn’t that the blurb all over the internet? Why isn’t that the focus of the back of the book blurb? Well because it was written likely by someone in marketing who does this for dozens of books a week and doesn’t read them. So Sherrilyn’s book comes to marketing and it’s labeled a romance, so they slap on a template for romances and use the quick little 3 page uber-summary to fill in the blanks.

 

Basically, book marketing is Mad-Libs.

 

There is a monetized force at work here: every year in America alone there are 500,000 NEW titles of fiction and non-fiction put out every year. That number doesn’t even count the self-published efforts. Half a million. Half a goddamn million. And there are what? Twenty, maybe twenty-five publishers in the U.S. when you boil it all down? That would mean in pretend math each publishing house puts out 20,000 books per year, or about 1,666 per month. Sweet Jesus in a sidecar, that’s a lot, so who can blame them for turning out the same schlocky blurbs time and again?

 

You. That’s who.

 

Mainstream publishers should remember they’re publishing an author because they like his or her story, style, and tone, i.e. their writing. They should let them write a blurb and have their marketers edit it to include their buzz words like “danger, desire, save-the-world, and lose-everything.”

 

Publishing does have to change. As we march towards all eBooks in the next twenty years, self-published and major publishers will stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the market. We have to come up with cohesive rules for everyone.

 

Look, self-publishing has a lot of schlock and stolen material. I get that. But with standards that stuff will become patently clear and easily avoidable. But we have to stop fucking up a few things. First, we have to stop forcing female authors to write romances within other genres, like urban fantasy. Then we have to bring writers more tightly into the book publishing process. They should have greater say in marketing materials but we do still need expert demons marketers to help shape the final product for a good impact.

 

Somewhat related to this is when minions of Satan marketers from different media work on the same project. We’re talking adaptation here, from book to graphic novel, TV show, or film. Let’s take for example the TV show Game of Thrones, based off of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

 

Today I saw that for an upcoming episode some mook released some details to huffpost about “Cersei Lannister’s shocking new nude scene.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about…. *sigh* go read the goddamn books, just do it, they are amazing. If all you’ve watched is the TV show, go read the fucking books and quit bitching about spoilers. Otherwise when Jon Snow dies you’re gonna be heavily pissed. Yeah, there’s a spoiler for you, the cliffhanger of the fifth book. Eat it.

 

Now the TV show watchers only resoundingly commented on huffpost “oh no! not another sex scene with her brother!” For fuck’s sake, NO. See, for those of us who read, we know Cersei, the much-hated Queen Mother is about to get her comeuppance. Her father, the King’s Hand, has enough of her shit so shames her by making her beg forgiveness at the Sept and walk the town back to the castle naked as a jaybird. The best part? In the books after that you pretty much never hear of the awful woman again. In fact most of the coming season should be Tyrion and Ara time, aka, heaven.

 

Now, even the watchers of the show would be more tantalized by “Cersei Lannister finally gets her comeuppance!” than the thinly veiled “See Lena Headey’s boooooobs, guys!”

 

But Hollywood only knows “tits and explosions, those sell!” so we get that teaser. Look, I love Lena Headey, a fantastic actress, and may her career flourish. I will pay the damned $15 to see any move she’s in and subscribe to see her shows. But I don’t give a flying wombat about her tits. Frankly, like most female viewers, if the headline instead was “Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s upcoming ten minute nude scene in GoT” I would be licking the damn television. So I understand sex sells, but we do have large parts of our brains dedicated to other things than car chases, pizza, and getting laid.

 

How about appealing to the viewers’ desire to see one karmic act of balance righting a wrong in a world that is cruel and unfair where our favorite characters keep dying because George R.R. Martin must have been a serial killer in a past life?

 

This is the general problem with marketing. Can you people please sell me a car without equating it with sex (it will get women!) or procreative sex (great for kids!)? Can you sell me bathroom cleanser without intimating my husband will fuck me roughly for my efforts? Or how about selling me a damn Coca Cola without intimating it’s as effective to having sex with strangers as tequila is? For a single woman with no kids this advertising just doesn’t work (for anybody) and to me it’s patently clear.

 

This problem is uniquely American. Sorry, rest of the world, we foisted it on you. Please enjoy our brainless action films and tasteless fast food. Don’t worry, McDonald’s’ promotional tie-ins will bring it all together for you. See the new blockbuster and eat this mechanized (theoretical) cow meat! Mmmm, Americana: bullshit with extra flavoring, now gluten-free!

 

So please, fight the good fight, don’t let corporate America try to turn you into a Jersey Shore cast member. Read books, comment on publisher’s websites that you want more of the author’s voice in marketing. Comment on Hollywood studio sites that you want more intellectual treatment of book adaptations. And consider killing your television.

And please take a moment to view my IndieGoGo campaign to help stop some of this madness. donate if you can, even $5 help, but if you can't share the link. Thanks!